Your headline has the power to attract and engage your ideal prospect. With a little bit of thought and a couple of headline writing tips, you can craft a headline that has a big impact on the results you see from your website.
(This is part 2 of a 3 part series on writing effective copy for your website)
Any time spent on Google looking for tips on writing effective headlines will come up with an endless number of sites, many of them with great advice. In this blog post, I want to focus in on a few headline tweaks that are easy to do and that are having the best results for our Customers.
The Job of Your Headline
Your headline needs to do two jobs: (1) spark the interest of your website’s visitors and (2) attract new visitors to your website through Search Engine Optimization.
The first job of your headline is to quickly sell visitors on reading at least the next paragraph if not the rest of the page. We’ve all heard the saying that your site needs to catch your visitors’ attention in the first 3 seconds or they’re gone; the first job of your headline is to get them to stick around.
In order to catch and keep the attention of your visitors, your headline needs to:
- Be quickly and easily understood by your visitors; don’t get too cute or obscure with your headlines.
- Present a compelling benefit that makes it worthwhile spending more time on the page for your visitors.
Going back to the last blog post where we looked at climbing inside your Customer’s mind, it’s really important that you’re writing about something that matters to your customers.
How to Write a Website Headline: Tips and Ideas that Capture Interest:
- Keep it punchy, keep it short
- Start it with a number (17 Questions…, 5 Ways to…, The 8 Reasons Why…)
- Start it with “How To…”
- Start it with a warning or attention word (STOP:, ALERT: , Finally!, Announcing…, Don’t…, Discover, Exposed!)
- Start it with “Top 5, Top 10”
- Use the words and phrases your customers use when they’re looking for this kind of information.
The Natural Way to Boost the SEO of Your Headline
But first an important technical SEO tidbit…
Before I get into adding keywords to your headline, there’s a small but critically important technical piece that needs to be addressed. The headline on a web page is one of the strongest signals to Search Engines like Google and Bing when they’re trying to figure out what your page is all about; that’s why having your keywords in headlines whenever feasible is so important. However, you need to understand that just because a piece of text might “look” like a headline, that doesn’t mean it is a headline in the eyes of the Search Engines.
Under the hood, in how your website is coded, are special “tags” that surround your content. Proper, search engine friendly headlines have special tags around them that the Search Engines are looking for. These are called “heading tags”. Your web page should have one (and only one) main headline and may have multiple secondary headlines. The main headline shows up as what’s called “Heading 1” text. You can have “Heading 2”, “Heading 3” and so on. If you were to look at the source code of your page, you’d see something like:
<h1>How to Write a Headline For Your Website</h1>
See how the headline shows up in between those “h1” tags? That’s critical.
Now Back to Putting SEO Keywords in Your Headline…
Once you have your headline drafted, it’s time to take another pass through and tweak it for Search Engine Optimization. Before you do though, you hopefully know what your best keywords are that you’re targeting.
Be careful not to ruin your headline for the sake of Search Engine Optimization. I often see headlines that have been clearly stuffed with keywords to attract SEO traffic. It’s a bad practice and not one that is really effective these days (Google has gotten pretty smart at avoiding sites that are blatantly keyword stuffing). You want to work them in as naturally as possible. Remember, the best keywords are really the words and phrases that your ideal Customer is using to describe what they’re looking for…in natural, everyday language.
A great Ka-Ching! headline is one that both captures interest and attracts SEO traffic is one that uses your Customers’ natural language and has been spiced up to capture interest. By giving just a bit more conscious thought to crafting your headlines, you’ll be doing something that has a big impact on your results.